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There are several important reasons that prevent the officials of FIFA from making their final decision about the World cup 2022 that initially was scheduled to be held in Qatar. Because of these reasons the country now is facing the possibility of being stripped of the right to host the championship. Four years ago the jury of officials voted in favour of Qatar. Today Sepp Blatter is close to admitting that choosing Qatar as the country hosting the World Cup was a big mistake. Now the leaders of FIFA have to deal with several dilemmas and issues related to the upcoming tournament.
One of the problems the officials of FIFA are trying to solve is the complications caused by the climate conditions in Qatar. After four years it occurred to the leaders of the committee involved into the evaluation of the preparation for the World Cup that the weather in Qatar is not suitable for any sport events whatsoever. First of all, the average summer temperatures on the territory of Qatar vary between forty and forty two degrees on the Celsius scale with a significant risk of the heat reaching forty eight and forty nine degrees.
Such conditions would be simply impossible to adjust to. For a comparison, the average temperatures in Brazil, where the World Cup is currently going on, are at least ten degrees lower, but the referees of the games were still given a right to stop the matches in order to organise a short pause for the players to refresh and drink some water because the heat there is physically exhausting.
The climate in Qatar is harsh enough to cause lethal outcomes to the people that are not used to such high temperatures. It is simply dangerous for people to spend time outside, especially in the day time and without a chance of going into the shadow. It is hard to imagine how the players are going to survive in such conditions during the games. It is scary to think what the sun may do to the people at the stadium.
The advantage Qatar has is finances. The stakeholders seem to be wealthy enough to be prepared to create the whole infrastructure from scratch. Of course, the technological progress of the modern world allows installing air conditioners at the stadiums, but Sepp Blatter stated that the air conditioning, which initially was one of the most important and emphasised arguments of Qatar’s representatives and their bid, is only possible in the areas for fans, players and the officials. Blatter is concerned about the other groups of people that are going to be present at the games.
The president of FIFA mentioned that the committee has to care about their partners such as the mass media workers and commercial representatives (Masters 2013). After all, media and business are two of the crucial aspects of the sports nowadays. This is the disadvantage of the project. The organising committee of Qatar and its head, Hassan Al -Thawadi, noted that even though the country bid for the summer championship, they are still open to an opportunity of re-scheduling the tournament for some other time of the year, when the weather in Qatar is not as hot. There was a suggestion to move the games and have the Cup in winter.
It is a well known fact that timing is everything in the world of sports, especially in the case of football. The national competitions will be held during the year as usual. Moving the World Cup to the winter time means that the players will have to be torn apart between the teams. The strongest and most influential clubs such as Bayern Munich, Barcelona or Real Madrid consist mainly of the players of national class. Does this mean that these clubs will fall out of the national tournaments and the Champions League? Or will the best national teams have to skip the World Cup? Or maybe some other players will be invited to represent the countries at the World Cup?
The situation with the biggest football tournament of 2022 is highly confusing at the moment. The officials of FIFA are hesitating. No final answers are given, no definite opinions are formed. It seems like Sepp Blatter is waiting for the organising committee to come up with more solutions. Besides, the World Cup that is going on today in Brazil serves a serious distraction for the officials of the International Football Association.
Human Rights Violations
The climate and weather conditions in Qatar during summer are, of course, just one of the reasons that make the FIFA officials have doubts about letting this country have the World Cup in 2022. The other issues are much more serious.
Qatar is a very small Middle Eastern country. Its general population counts only two million people. It is important to know that only fifteen per cent of the country’s population are the citizens of Qatar. The rest are workers from abroad. The total number of guest employees in Qatar equals one and a half million people. These workers come to Qatar from such countries as India, Pakistan, Nepal and the Philippines. They are mainly involved into doing a very hard work such as construction.
The independent investigators that spent some time exploring the lifestyle and inner policies of Qatar stated that the situation there is horrific. The migrant employees have to live and work in awful conditions and they have illegally long shifts. Due to that they have to spend long time outside in hard labor, the heat is unmerciful towards people’s health, this is why the lethal cases are not rare among the guest workers at Qatar’s construction sites.
Besides, the investigation showed that there is a certain system involved into the process of bringing the foreign employees to the country and then keeping them for an unlimited period of time, so that these people are forced to perform the hard and life threatening labor in order to survive. After these facts were revealed, they immediately attracted the attention of masses. An influential and respected organisation such as FIFA will not ignore this shocking information. The modern world will not agree to favour severe human rights violations and back them up with an event like World Cup in football.
Qatar, just like other wealthy Middle Eastern countries, is developing very quickly. This is its main advantage. The horizons of it constantly change because new beautiful projects of skyscrapers and business centers are being employed. In the pictures the cities of Qatar look very modern, they are filled with contemporary architecture and the miracles of the powerful engineering thought. The urban areas of Qatar are impressive in the daylight, and they look just marvelous in the night with all the sparkling city lights and illumination.
In the photographs it truly looks like a futuristic place very suitable to be the face of the World Cup of 2022. Of course, a country with such small number of native citizens has to use the help of guest workers in order to keep moving along with the technological progress of the globalising world. Qatar, just like other rapidly developing countries, is willing to keep up with the global North and maintain its own authority. It is normal that a country that grows and builds up so quickly is hiring over a million of foreign workers.
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Guest employees have always been one of the most available sources of cheap work force. Besides, it creates an opportunity for the citizens of other countries to find jobs they cannot have in their motherlands. It looks good from the outside, seems like a fair exchange. The guest workers receive jobs and income and in return the country keeps developing quickly and spreading its influence throughout the region and the rest of the world.
Hiring foreign workers is a positive thing, unless it turns into something that resembles slavery, which seems to be happening in Qatar nowadays. The investigators of the process of preparation and organisation of the upcoming tournament have reported multiple cases of severe human rights violations on the territory of the country. Statistically, the number of foreign citizens dying at the construction sites of Qatar every year counts hundreds of people. The embassy of Nepal located on the territory of Qatar reported that four hundred of Nepalese workers had passed away building World Cup structures since 2010.
Indian embassy reported five hundred deaths of Indian citizens in Qatar since 2012 (Stahl 2014). The investigations counted that if the building process keeps developing at this pace, around four thousand of people will die by the opening of the tournament in 2022. The World Cup will literally be played over the dead bodies of the migrant workers from India, Nepal, the Philippines and Pakistan. Moreover, the migrant workers in Qatar have basically no rights at all. According to the law called “kafala” the employers are permitted to take away the passports of the guest workers and prevent them from getting exit visas.
This way the employees are kept on the territory of the country against their will. After all of these horrific facts were revealed to the publicity the reputation of FIFA officials became endangered, because not so long ago they openly stated that there is no doubt that the tournament will be hosted by Qatar. Two standard questions arise in the minds of the masses today. Why did not the FIFA officials gather enough information about Qatar before assigning it as a host for the Cup of 2022? Does the fact that this country is highly oil-rich play a role here?
When the officials of FIFA confronted the organisational committee of the Cup in Qatar about all the issues, the leaders promised to do everything possible to get rid of these problems. For example, they announced the decision to reduce kafala and stop withdrawing the exit visas for the foreigners, yet they never mentioned when exactly this reduction will become active.
They also explained that neither of the hundreds of late Nepalese and Indian workers died while working on the projects for the upcoming World Cup. The other kinds of constructions must have killed them. None of these explanations and promises affected the leaders of FIFA. They did not calm down the reaction of the shocked masses either. Qatar keeps having serious problems with the organisation of the World Cup 2022 and with the trust of people all around the world.
Four years ago millions of fans and sport experts were surprised by the FIFA committee’s decision to assign Qatar as the host of the World Cup in summer of 2022. Today, the current tournament in Brazil is the main concern of the FIFA officials. The preparation for this Cup was surrounded by the great deal of scandals and social protests against the unfair distribution of costs. Brazil was dealing with lateness and delays during the preparation, which caused a lot of stress to the leaders of FIFA committee. As soon as the championship in Brazil is over the situation in Qatar will become the most important issue for Sepp Blatter and his team.
According to the information provided by the investigator of FIFA Michael Garcia, the committee that voted in favour of Qatar four years ago was bribed. This information recently leaked to the mass media and the publicity found out about the incident. The causes of the unexpected decision of FIFA to choose tiny Middle Eastern country with impossibly hot climate as a host of the World Cup 2022 started to make sense.
The advantages of this case are hard to find. Corruption is one of the biggest problems of the contemporary world. It is widely believed that not many forces today remain fair and noble. FIFA officials have been struggling to preserve the purity of their reputation for years. Their last two decisions concerning the World Cup in Russia that will be held in 2018 and the tournament in Qatar have caused many doubts and discussions, although, in spite of all the rumors and prejudices, the solution about Russian Cup of 2018 does not look as unbelievable as the one about Qatar.
The only positive thing about this scandalous case of bribery in the Middle East is the fact that it was uncovered and investigated. Diego Maradona, the legendary player from Argentina, publically judged this incident and encouraged the officials of FIFA to investigate the situation deeper in order to find out the final destinations of money received from Qatar’s financiers, and figure out who and why took it (Diego Maradona Slams FIFA “Bribes” over Qatar World Cup Bid 2014).
The Argentine legend hopes that soon football will return its reputation of a fun game that stays away from corruption, lies and dirty manipulations. Michel Platini is being attacked by the press and accused of being one of the receivers of the bribes. The former French player is struggling to save his authority and reputation in the world of football standing up to the accusations of the journalists that are looking for a target of more scandals.
According to Michael Garcia, soon the investigators of FIFA will complete their probe related to the FIFA committee’s decisions about Russia and Qatar. This scandal is carefully followed by the football fans and expert all over the world. The situation in Qatar is embarrassing for the whole Association of Football. Another possible advantage of this situation may be the fact that if the case of bribery in Qatar is proven, the World Cup will be moved to another country, and the United States of America is very likely to become that country.
The corruption claims against the bid of Qatar 2022 are believable. There are too many factors that make the FIFA’s decision to assign this country as the host of the tournament shocking, irresponsible and irrational. If the case of bribery is proven the reputation of FIFA will have to go through a lot of hard times. Today, all of the biggest sponsors of the World Cup 2022 such as Coca Cola and Sony insist that the investigators explore the situation thoroughly. The reaction of some of FIFA delegates is even more radical – they suggest a re-vote.
The investigators conducted a series of interviews with all the members of bidding committees of the tournaments of 2018 and 2022; they also interviewed the officials that represented FIFA at those two events. It seems that Franz Beckenbauer is under a lot of suspicion because he refuses to help the investigation even though he was one of the jury members that voted for Qatar. From the side of the host country there is just one name that keeps appearing in the discussions of this scandal. Mohammed bin Hammam, the former Asian football chief, is called the source of the bribes.
According to the information that leaked to the mass media, bin Hammam has paid five million dollars to the FIFA officials in order to secure the country’s right to host the Cup. The organising committee of Qatar denies all of the accusations and states that Mohammed bin Hamman has never been a part of their big team, yet he is a former football chief in Asia, this is why they do not deny their connections with him. Garcia’s investigation team has examined all the evidences and relationships carefully. Not so long ago the former New York attorney stated that his people seem to have found the original source. The data collected during the investigation is being processed and is kept secret.
Sepp Blatter and the other leaders of the International Association of Football are in a very difficult and frustrating position today. They need to find the people that are responsible for the scandalous and disgraceful situation with the World Cup of 2022. They also need to make a quick and clever decision about the further destiny of the tournament. At the moment, there are several ways out.
The Cup could stay in Qatar, but be held in winter when it is not as hot, yet this will create a lot of discomfort in the whole world of football and overlap with the winter Olympics that will happen that year. The Cup could be moved to some other country, but the authorities need to choose wisely, because the new host will have much less time for the preparation for the event. The United States claims to be ready to handle this mission. Whichever solution Blatter chooses, the responsibility for the further outcomes will fall on his shoulders.
Diego Maradona Slams FIFA “Bribes” over Qatar World Cup Bid. (2014). NDTV Sports.
Masters, J. (2003). FIFA Head: Qatar Too Hot for Summer World Cup.
Stahl, J. (2014). The Qatar World Cup Is a Human Rights Catastrophe. It’s Time to Do Something about It.